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Easy win for Ireland

O'Brien stars with bat as Irish begin World T20 preparations

Niall O'Brien: Proved the mainstay of the Ireland innings with 62 from 49 balls

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Ireland tuned up for the World Twenty20 with a one-sided 54-run victory over Zimbabwe in Colombo.

Having made huge strides in one-day cricket in recent years, Phil Simmons' outfit will once again be looking to make their mark at an international tournament later in the month.

Their preparations for the forthcoming showpiece in Sri Lanka got off to a solid start as they made 181-5, before restricting Zimbabwe to 127-8 in response.

Niall O'Brien starred with the bat, making 62 from 49 balls, while Kevin O'Brien (30 not out) and Ed Joyce (29) offered ample support.

George Dockrell and Alex Cusack then equally shared six wickets as Zimbabwe, short of Hamilton Masakadza's 44, made a disappointing fist of their chase.

They were left to rue asking Ireland to bat first, conceding 34 runs off the first 22 balls before they broke the momentum when Brian Vitori got rid of Paul Stirling.

Captain Will Porterfield did not last much longer, going to Chris Mpofu, but that threw Joyce and Kevin O'Brien together and then duly shared a partnership of 83 in a little under 10 overs, with their alliance eventually ended when Joyce became Mpofu's second victim.

Niall O'Brien hung around a little longer before Richard Muzhange found a way to remove him, but by then the damage had been done.

Zimbabwe's performance in the field had been sloppy and they could not have had a worse start with the bat either, with Vusi Sibanda having his stumps rearranged by Boyd Rankin with the very first ball.

Captain Brendan Taylor added just three before Trent Johnston snared him and, despite Masakadza adding a breezy 27-ball 44, Ireland were in control, with Dockrell and Cusack coming on to choke the life out of their opponents.

Craig Ervine offered mild resistence with 24 but was clean bowled by Dockrell and that started a run of five wickets in 13 balls which saw Ireland home.